Cranbourne railway line

The Cranbourne line is a commuter railway line in the city of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.[1] Operated by Metro Trains Melbourne, it is the city's second longest metropolitan railway line at 44 kilometres (27.34 mi). The line runs from Flinders Street station in central Melbourne to Cranbourne station in the south-east, serving 24 stations via the City Loop, South Yarra, Caulfield, Oakleigh, and Dandenong.[2] The line operates for approximately 20 hours a day (from approximately 4:00 am to around midnight) with 24 hour service available on Friday and Saturday nights. During peak hour, headways of up to 5 to 15 minutes are operated with services every 15–20 minutes during off-peak hours.[1] Trains on the Cranbourne line run with a seven-car formation operated by High Capacity Metro Trains.[3]

Railways in Melbourne
High Capacity Metro Train arriving at elevated Hughesdale station, Melbourne.
A Cranbourne line High Capacity Metro Train arriving at Hughesdale station.
Service typeCommuter rail
SystemMelbourne railway network
LocaleMelbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • Tooradin (1888–1890)
  • Loch (1890–1891)
  • Leongatha (1891–1892)
  • Port Albert (1892–1987)
  • Welshpool (1987–1990)
  • Toora (1990–1992)
  • Koo Wee Rup (1992–1993)
First service1 October 1888; 134 years ago (1888-10-01) as South Gippsland line
Current operator(s)Metro Trains
Former operator(s)
TerminiFlinders Street
Stops24 (including City Loop stations)
Distance travelled43.920 km (27.291 mi)
Average journey time59 minutes (not via City Loop)
Service frequency
  • 10–16 minutes weekdays peak
  • 20 minutes weekdays off-peak and weekend daytime
  • 30 minutes weekend nights
  • 60 minutes early weekend mornings
  • Double frequency daytime between Flinders Street and Dandenong in combination with Pakenham line
  • Shuttle-only operation at nighttime between Dandenong and Cranbourne
Line(s) used
Rolling stockHCMT
Track gauge1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in)
Electrification1500 V DC overhead
Track owner(s)VicTrack

The line originally opened in 1888 branching off from the Gippsland line at Dandenong as the South Gippsland line.[4] Services operated as far as Port Albert, with extensive branch lines featuring on the non-electrified network. The line(s) were built to serve the regional townships of Cranbourne, Koo Wee Rup, and Leongatha, amongst others. The line was closed in 1993 after a decline in usage, however, the line was reopened and electrified to Cranbourne in 1995 as part of the "Building Better Cities" program.[5][6] Significant growth has occurred since its reopening, with proposals to extend the line two stations to Clyde receiving support amongst other works on the corridor.[7]

Since the 2010s, due to the heavily utilised infrastructure of the Cranbourne line, significant improvements and upgrades have been made. A $1 billion upgrade of the corridor between Dandenong and Cranbourne is currently under construction, with improvements including the removal of all level crossings, rebuilding stations, and the duplication of 8 km (4.97 mi) of track.[8] Other works taking place have included the replacement of sleepers, the introduction of new signalling technology, the introduction of new rolling stock, and other works associated with the Metro Tunnel project.[9] These projects have improved the quality and safety of the line, and will be completed by the opening of the Metro Tunnel in 2025.[10]


19th centuryEdit

In 1888, the Cranbourne line (then known as the South Gippsland railway line) began operations, splitting off from the main line to Gippsland at Dandenong with an extension to Cranbourne.[11] The line was progressively extended to Koo Wee Rup, Nyora, and Loch in 1890, Korumburra and Leongatha in 1891, and Welshpool, Alberton, and Port Albert in 1892.[12][4] From its opening until 2022, the Cranbourne line was fully single tracked from Dandenong to its terminus, and was only electrified upon its reopening in the 1990s.[13]

20th centuryEdit

Regional servicesEdit

A map of the South Gippsland railway line in the 20th century

Throughout the early to mid 20th century, the South Gippsland railway line continued to open additional branch lines, including to Woodside, Barry Beach, Welshpool Jetty, Outtrim, Wonthaggi, and Strzelecki.[14] All of these branch lines ceased their operations between the mid and late 20th century due to a decrease in patronage.[14] On 6 June 1981, passenger services ceased operation to Yarram. In 1984, the line re-opened with services to Leongatha, until its second closure on 24 June 1993.[4] The Barry Beach freight service ceased operations in 1992, with the line beyond Leongatha booked out of service on 30 June 1992, thus, effectively ending all traffic on the line beyond Leongatha.[15] V/Line passenger services continued to Cranbourne till its electirifcation, with freight operations continuing into the late 1990s with freight services to the Koala siding.[15]

Metropolitan servicesEdit

Dandenong station was rebuilt as part of the "Building Better Cities" program

In 1995, the Australian Government launched the "Building Better Cities" program, designed to redevelop Australian cities with better communities and infrastructure.[6] The $27 million project included a rebuilt Dandenong station, a new station in Cranbourne North (Merinda Park station), the introduction of three position signalling, and electrification of the signal tracked corridor.[16] These works resulted in the re-opening of a section of the South Gippsland line to passengers which became known as the Cranbourne Line.

Freight services continued on part of the South Gippsland line till 1998, when services from the Koala Siding were suspended.[17] With these changes, the line became unused beyond Cranbourne.[17] The exception was a tourist railway operation, which commenced operation between Nyora and Leongatha, and later became known as the South Gippsland Railway till its closure in January 2016.[18]

Lynbrook station, opened in 2012

21st centuryEdit

In 2008, a package of works were unveiled to upgrade the Cranbourne line to improve frequencies and the quality of service. A new siding was constructed at Cranbourne, with a capacity of 6 trains, in order to increase frequencies without having to duplicate the line.[19] In addition to the new siding, the $37 million project also brought a major upgrade to Cranbourne station, which included the construction of an enclosed waiting room, new platform shelters, new toilet facilities, formalised paved pedestrian access, an upgraded bus interchange, and increased security.[20]

In 2012, Lynbrook station opened after two years of construction works. The station serves the suburbs of Lynbrook and Lyndhurst, with the station featuring accessible platforms, car parking facilities, and bus stops.[21] In 2014, the level crossing at Springvale Road, Springvale, was removed by lowering the railway into a trench. Prior to this, the level crossing was considered the most dangerous in Victoria.[22] The removal consisted of a 1.6 km (0.99 mi) trench and the construction of a new premium station at Springvale.[23]

In September 2019, Qube Holdings commenced operating a daily service on a short section of the line, hauling containerised cement to the Kimberly-Clark siding at Dandenong South.[24]


Metro TunnelEdit

The map of the Metro Tunnel route through the Melbourne central business district.

The 2012 Network Development Plan identified the need for a north-south tunnel connecting the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines to the Sunbury line.[9] In 2017, the Metro Tunnel began construction, involving the construction of five new underground stations, twin 9-kilometre (5.6 mi) tunnels, and other associated infrastructure improvements. Leaving the existing Cranbourne line alignment before South Yarra station, new stations will be built at Anzac, Town Hall (with connections to Flinders Street station), State Library (with connections to Melbourne Central), Parkville, and Arden, before continuing onto the Sunbury line. These works will be completed by 2025, and upon completion, will create a singular rail line from Cranbourne and Pakenham to Sunbury and Melbourne Airport (from 2029).[10]

Melbourne Airport Rail LinkEdit

The Melbourne Airport rail link will involve the construction of a 27-kilometre (17 mi) line from Sunshine to a new station at Melbourne Airport. Connected via the Metro Tunnel, services will operate from the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines through the tunnel before splitting off at Sunshine to either Sunbury or Melbourne Airport. Construction of the line will involve the renovation of Sunshine station to allow for additional platforms, construction of new track, and the addition of two new stations at Keilor East and Melbourne Airport.[25] Construction started in 2022 with services expected to begin in 2029.[26]

Clyde ExtensionEdit

Services on the South Gippsland line were fully suspended in 1981 due to limited passenger numbers on the route. Since the closure, calls have been made to reopen the line to the suburb of Clyde. Reopening of the line to Clyde was first promised by the Australian Labor Party during the 1999 and 2002 state election campaigns, but were dumped before the 2006 election.[27] In November 2003, a "Trainlink" bus service was introduced as an alternative, meeting each train at Cranbourne station and running on a largely one-way loop through Cranbourne East.[28] The Bracks governments Victorian Transport Plan, released in 2008, listed the extensions and associated works as a "medium term" project, which was estimated to cost $200 million.[29] Despite the political promise to revive the railway line for freight and passenger services by the Bracks-led Labor government in 1999, the project was abandoned in 2008 by his successor John Brumby.

In 2013, as part of Public Transport Victoria's Network Development Plan for metropolitan rail, an extension of the Cranbourne line to Clyde was earmarked to begin in the "long-term", which would equate to at least over the next 20 years.[30] In January 2018, City of Casey advised it would need almost $3 billion worth of rail and road infrastructure projects to continue development of the region, including the extension of the metropolitan train from Cranbourne to Clyde and the duplication of the line between Dandenong and Cranbourne. In the lead up to the 2018 state election, the incumbent Andrews government announced the Cranbourne Line Upgrade, a project involving the duplication of 8 km of track between Dandenong and Cranbourne, a rebuilt Merinda Park station, the construction of a new rail connection for the Port Rail Shuttle Network, and the removal of all remaining level crossings on the corridor.[31] Andrews argued that this project was required if an extension to Clyde was to be constructed.[31] Opposition leader Matthew Guy instead promised that he would extend the Cranbourne line to Clyde if he won the election.[32]

Again in the lead up to the 2022 state election, the City of Casey increased its campaign for the extension of the rail line to Clyde, including the construction of 3 new stations.[7] The City of Casey proposal involved the construction of stations at Cranbourne East, Casey Fields (only proposed by the council), and Clyde.[7] This proposal was supported again by opposition leader Matthew Guy, minus the station at Casey Fields.[33] The incumbent Andrews government made no commitments to the Clyde rail extension, instead continuing construction on the Cranbourne Line Upgrade.[34] The 2022 state election resulted in another Labor victory, with the Andrews government pushing ahead with the Cranbourne Line Upgrade, with the extension to Clyde remaining stagnate ever since.[35]

Level Crossing RemovalsEdit

The Level Crossing Removal Project has announced the removal of all 15 remaining level crossings on the Cranbourne line, to be completed in stages from 2018 to 2025. All level crossings between Caulfield and Dandenong were removed in 2018 as part of the Caulfield to Dandenong skyrail project.[36] This included the removal of nine level crossings and the reconstruction of five elevated stations along the corridor.[37] The second phase of removals involves removing individual crossings along the corridor through a variety of methods by 2025.[38] Some crossings have been removed through elevating the rail corridor, some by lowering or raising the road, with other crossings being removed by closing the crossing off from motor traffic.[39] These projects will leave the entirety of the Cranbourne line level crossing free by 2025, with projects on the Sunbury line leaving the entire Sunshine-Dandenong corridor crossing free by the opening of the Metro Tunnel in 2025.[40]

Cranbourne Line UpgradeEdit

Merinda Park station was rebuilt as part of the upgrade works

Announced in the lead up to the 2018 Victorian state election, the Cranbourne line would receive a $1 billion upgrade to coincide with the opening of the Metro Tunnel.[41] The project is being delivered by the Level Crossing Removal Project, and will include:[8]

  • The removal of the four remaining level crossings (50% complete)
  • The duplication of 8 km (4.97 mi) of single track between Dandenong South and Cranbourne (complete)
  • The instillation of a second rail bridge at Abbotts Road and Eumemmerring Creek in Dandenong South (complete)
  • The reconstruction of Merinda Park station (complete)
  • The delivery of a new rail connection for the Port Rail Shuttle Network (underway)
  • The Clyde rail extension that was proposed by the Andrews government (static)

In 2020, the level crossing at Evans Road in Lyndhurst was removed through the construction of a road bridge over the rail line. In early 2021, the first platform of the newly rebuilt Merinda Park station was opened, with the second platform opening a year later.[42] In February 2022, the second platform at Merinda Park was opened along with the completion of duplication works.[13] After the duplication works, the line could now handle 10-minute frequencies during peak periods. As a result, the timetable was rewritten to allow for 50 extra Cranbourne services to operate every week.[43] Alongside the duplication works, all level crossings on the line will be removed. The Cranbourne line is projected to become the first crossing-free line on the network, with the remaining two crossings and other upgrade works expected to be completed by 2025.[44]

Network and OperationsEdit


Services on the Cranbourne line operates from approximately 4:00 am to around 11:30 pm daily.[45] In general, during peak hours, train frequency is 5 minutes on the Dandenong corridor (combined with the Pakenham line) and 10 minutes in the AM peak on the Cranbourne line while during non-peak hours the frequency is reduced to 20–30 minutes throughout the entire route.[46] Cranbourne line services operate as shuttles to and from Dandenong between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am, connecting with Pakenham line trains. During the peak, some services originate and terminate at Westall or Dandenong. Services run anticlockwise through the City Loop, and from 2025, Cranbourne line services will cease to stop at South Yarra, Richmond, and all City Loop stations when trains are rerouted through the Metro Tunnel upon opening.[46][47] On Friday nights and weekends, services run 24 hours a day, with 60 minute frequencies available outside of normal operating hours.[48] Since 13 February 2022, some off-peak daytime Cranbourne line services (and Pakenham line services) stop at Malvern station, running express between South Yarra and Malvern stations.[49]

Freight operations are limited, with Qube Holdings operating a daily service on a short section of the line hauling containerised cement to the Kimberly-Clark siding at Dandenong South.[24]

Train services on the Cranbourne line are also subjected to maintenance and renewal works, usually on selected Fridays and Saturdays. Shuttle bus services are provided throughout the duration of works for affected commuters.[50]

Stopping PatternsEdit

Legend — Station Status

  • Premium Station – Station staffed from first to last train
  • Host Station – Usually staffed during morning peak, however this can vary for different stations on the network.

Legend — Stopping Patterns
Some services do not operate via the City Loop

  • ● – All trains stop
  • ◐ – Some services do not stop
  • ▲ – Only inbound trains stop (trains operate counter-clockwise through the city loop all day)
  • | – Trains pass and do not stop
Cranbourne Services[51]
Station Zone Local Ltd Express Shuttle
Flinders Street 1
Southern Cross
Melbourne Central
South Yarra
Malvern |
Carnegie |
Murrumbeena |
Hughesdale 1/2 |
Huntingdale |
Clayton 2
Sandown Park
Noble Park
Merinda Park


The Cranbourne line has had a total of 5 operators since its reopening in 1995. The majority of operations throughout its history have been privately run.

The government-owned Public Transport Corporation and later Bayside Trains operated the line for a short 4 years till the 1999 privatisation of Melbourne's rail network.[52]

Bayside Trains was privatised in August 1999 and later rebranded M>Train. In 2002, M>Train was placed into receivership and the state government regained ownership of the line, with KPMG appointed as receivers to operate M>Train on behalf of the state government.[53][54][55] Two years later, rival train operator Connex Melbourne took over the M>Train operations including the Cranbourne line. Metro Trains Melbourne, the current private operator, then took over the operations in 2009. The private operators have had a combined operational period of 23 years.[56]

Past and present operators of the Cranbourne line:
Operator Assumed operations Ceased operations Length of operations
Public Transport Corporation 1995 1998 3 years
Bayside Trains (government operator) 1998 1999 1 years
M>Train 1999 2004 5 years
Connex Melbourne 2004 2009 5 years
Metro Trains Melbourne 2009 incumbent 13 years (ongoing)


Interactive map of the Cranbourne line in south-eastern Melbourne.

The Cranbourne line forms a relatively linear route from the Melbourne CBD to its terminus in Cranbourne. The line is 45 kilometres (28 mi) long and predominantly double-tracked; however, between Flinders Street station and Richmond, the track is widened to 12 tracks, narrowing to 6 tracks between Richmond and South Yarra before again narrowing to 4 tracks between South Yarra and Caulfield.[57] After Caulfield station, the track again narrows to two tracks, which remain for the rest of the route. The only underground section of the Cranbourne line is in the City Loop, where the service stops at 3 underground stations and operates in a counter-clockwise direction.[58] Exiting the city, the Cranbourne line traverses mainly flat country with few curves and fairly minimal earthworks for most of the line. However, between South Yarra and Malvern, the rail corridor has been lowered into a cutting to eliminate level crossings, and between Malvern and Caulfield, the corridor it has been raised on an embankment for the same reason.[59] After Caulfield, the line formerly had numerous level crossings; all have now been abolished between Caulfield and Dandenong as part of an elevated rail project, as well as some older bridges over and under roads.[60] The remaining crossing will be fully removed by 2025, with the Cranbourne line becoming the first fully level crossing free line on the Melbourne railway network.

The line follows the same alignment as the Pakenham line along the Gippsland line, with the two services splitting onto different routes at Dandenong. The Cranbourne line turns south and branches on to the South Gippsland line, while the Pakenham line continues along the Gippsland line.[61] Most of the rail line goes through built-up suburbs and some industrial areas, but after Dandenong, the line gets into a mix of both open fields and suburbia.[61] This outer portion of the line is one of Melbourne's main growth corridors, which is rapidly replacing farmland with housing and commercial developments, adding additional passengers to the line each year.[62]


The line serves 24 stations across 45 kilometres (28 mi) of track. The stations are a mix of elevated, lowered, underground, and ground level designs. Underground stations are present only in the City Loop, with the majority of elevated and lowered stations being constructed as part of level crossing removals.[63][64] From 2025, services will cease to stop at Flinders Street, Southern Cross, Flagstaff, Melbourne Central, Parliament, Richmond, and South Yarra stations due to the opening of the Metro Tunnel.

Station Accessibility Opened Terrain Train connections Other connections
Flinders Street Yes—step free access 1854[11] Lowered    
Southern Cross 1859[11] Ground level        
Flagstaff 1985[11] Underground  
Melbourne Central 1981[11]    
Parliament 1983[11]  
Richmond No—steep ramp 1859[11] Elevated    
South Yarra 1860[11] Lowered
3 connections
Malvern 1879[11]
2 connections
Caulfield Ground level
3 connections
Carnegie Yes—step free access Elevated
1 connection
Hughesdale 1925[11]
Oakleigh 1877[11] Ground level
Huntingdale No—steep ramp 1927[11]
Clayton Yes—step free access 1880[11] Elevated
2 connections
Westall 1951[11] Ground level
1 connection
Springvale 1880[11] Lowered
Sandown Park No—steep ramp 1888[65] Ground level
Noble Park Yes—step free access 1913[11] Elevated
Yarraman No—steep ramp 1976[11] Ground level
Dandenong 1877[11]
2 connections
Lynbrook Yes—step free access 2012[11]  
Merinda Park 1995[11]
Cranbourne 1888[11]    
Station histories
Station Opened[65] Closed[65] Age Notes[65][10]
Flinders Street 12 September 1854 168 years
  • From 2025, services will cease to stop due to the opening of the Metro Tunnel
  • Formerly Melbourne Terminus
Southern Cross 17 January 1859 164 years
  • From 2025, services will cease to stop due to the opening of the Metro Tunnel
  • Formerly Batman's Hill
  • Formerly Spencer Street
Flagstaff 27 May 1985 38 years
  • From 2025, services will cease to stop due to the opening of the Metro Tunnel
Melbourne Central 26 January 1981 42 years
  • From 2025, services will cease to stop due to the opening of the Metro Tunnel
  • Formerly Museum
Parliament 22 January 1983 40 years
  • From 2025, services will cease to stop due to the opening of the Metro Tunnel
Princes Bridge 8 February 1859 1 October 1866 7 years
2 April 1879 30 June 1980 101 years
Botanic Gardens 2 March 1859 c.April 1862 Approx. 3 years
Punt Road 8 February 1859 12 December 1859 10 months
  • Replaced by Swan Street (200m further along line)
Richmond 12 December 1859 163 years
  • From 2025, services will cease to stop due to the opening of the Metro Tunnel
  • Formerly Swan Street
Cremorne 12 December 1859 c.28 December 1863 Approx. 4 years
South Yarra 22 December 1860 162 years
  • From 2025, services will cease to stop due to the opening of the Metro Tunnel
  • Formerly Gardiner's Creek Road
Hawksburn 7 May 1889 134 years
  • Not a stop since 31 January 2021 due to a timetable reshuffle
Toorak 7 May 1879 144 years
  • Not a stop since 31 January 2021 due to a timetable reshuffle
Armadale 7 May 1879 144 years
  • Not a stop since 31 January 2021 due to a timetable reshuffle
Malvern 7 May 1879 144 years
Caulfield 7 May 1879 144 years
Carnegie 14 May 1879 144 years
  • Formerly Rosstown
Murrumbeena 14 May 1879 144 years
Hughesdale 28 February 1925 98 years
Oakleigh 8 October 1877 145 years
Huntingdale 25 June 1927 95 years
  • Formerly Eastoakleigh
Clayton 6 January 1880 143 years
  • Formerly Clayton's Road
Westall 6 February 1951 72 years
APEX Siding (Westall) ? -
Springvale 1 September 1880 142 years
  • Formerly Spring Vale
Sandown Park c.December 1888 15 May 1955 Approx. 66 years
  • Formerly Oakleigh Park Racecourse
19 June 1965 57 years
Noble Park 3 February 1913 110 years
Yarraman 21 December 1976 46 years
Dandenong 8 October 1877 145 years
Bombardier Siding 10 May 1955 68 years
  • Formerly Commonwealth Engineering Siding
  • Formerly ASEA Brown Boveri Siding
Kimberley Clark Siding 21 December 1970 52 years
  • Formerly Tubemakers of Australia Ltd siding
Australian Window Glass Siding ? ?
Lyndhurst 1 October 1888 9 June 1981 92 years
Lynbrook 22 April 2012 11 years
Merinda Park 24 March 1995 28 years
Cranbourne 1 October 1888 134 years
  • Temporarily closed in 1993 and re-opened in 1995

Planned stationsEdit

Station Accessibility Expected opening Terrain Planned train connections Other planned connections Notes
Arden Yes—step free access 2025[10] Underground
2 connections
Opening as part of the Metro tunnel project in 2025[10]
State Library      
Town Hall        


Rolling stockEdit

A Cranbourne bound High Capacity Metro Train arriving at Hughesdale station

The Cranbourne line uses a fleet of electric multiple unit (EMU) High Capacity Metro Trains operating in a seven-car configuration, with three doors per side on each carriage and can accommodate of up to 1,380 passengers in each train-set. Shared with the Pakenham, Sunbury, and Airport lines, the rolling stock will consist of 70 High Capacity Metro Trains (HCMT), once fully delivered.[66] They are built in Changchun, China, with final assembly occurring in Newport, Melbourne, by Evolution Rail, a consortium composed of CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles, Downer Rail and Plenary Group.[67]

Previously, the Cranbourne line was served by a fleet of Comeng and Siemens Nexas trains. The oldest Comeng trains (stage 1 and some stage 2) have been retired and scrapped as part of the HCMT introduction, however, some of these trains have been displaced onto other Melbourne metropolitan lines.[68][69]

Alongside the passenger trains, Cranbourne line tracks and equipment are maintained by a fleet of engineering trains. The four types of engineering trains are: the shunting train; designed for moving trains along non-electrified corridors and for transporting other maintenance locomotives, for track evaluation; designed for evaluating track and its condition, the overhead inspection train; designed for overhead wiring inspection, and the infrastructure evaluation carriage designed for general infrastructure evaluation.[70] Most of these trains are repurposed locomotives previously used by V/Line, Metro Trains, and the Southern Shorthaul Railroad.[70]


The rebuilt Clayton station that complies with DDA guidelines.

In compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act of 1992, all stations that are new-built or rebuilt are fully accessible and comply with these guidelines.[71] The majority of stations on the corridor are fully accessible, however, there are some stations that haven't been upgraded to meet these guidelines.[72] These stations do feature ramps, however, they have a gradient greater than 1 in 14.[72] Stations that are fully accessible feature ramps that have a gradient less than 1 in 14, have at-grade paths, or feature lifts.[72] These stations typically also feature tactile boarding indicators, independent boarding ramps, wheelchair accessible myki barriers, hearing loops, and widened paths.[72][73]

Projects improving station accessibility have included the Level Crossing Removal Project, which involves station rebuilds and upgrades, individual station upgrade projects, and associated Metro Tunnel works.[74][75] These works have made significant strides in improving network accessibility, with more than 66% of Cranbourne line stations classed as fully accessible. This number is expected to grow within the coming years, as a network restructure associated with the opening of the Metro Tunnel is completed by 2025.[76]


Difference between both fixed block and moving block signalling systems

Since its re-opening in 1995, the Cranbourne line had used a fixed-block, three-position signalling system designed for lower frequencies and less services.[77] However, the ageing system had undermined reliability due to the presence of system faults and limited frequencies, requiring the Cranbourne, Pakenham, and Sunbury lines to upgrade their signalling system. Since 2021, high-capacity signalling (HCS) has been rolling out on the Pakenham, Cranbourne, and Sunbury lines, allowing trains to safely run closer together and run more frequently.[78] The new system is being delivered by CPB Contractors and Bombardier Transportation under the Rail Systems Alliance. These works valued at $1 billion includes the roll-out of 55 kilometres (34 mi) of HCS and communications systems on the aforementioned lines, allowing an increase in reliability and frequency.[79] The line will be equipped with Bombardier’s CityFlo 650 communications-based train control system, which will enable operation at 2–3 minute headways.

The upgrade works were completed in phases from 2021. With the upgraded signalling system, trains are now able to run closer to each other. The new system was tested on the Mernda line and a section of the Cranbourne line before being fully implemented.[80] In March 2022, the Cranbourne line underwent further testing of high-tech signalling equipment, to ensure the new trains and signalling system can safely run alongside older-generation trains—including freight and V/Line trains—and the existing signalling system.[81]


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